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Grant number: PG-233589-16

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Tulane University (New Orleans, LA 70118-5698)
Marcello Canuto (Project Director: May 2015 to present)

General Preservation Assessment of Ancient Egyptian Collection

Hiring a consultant to conduct a preservation assessment and offer a workshop on care and handling of objects for museum staff and purchase of preservation supplies to rehouse a historic collection of Egyptian mummies and associated artifacts that were acquired by the university in the 1850s.  The unique collection, which dates to the New Kingdom (between 1,500 and 850 BCE), consists of three wooden coffins with painted decoration, two mummies, their cartonnage cases, and accompanying papyrus and linen fragments.  It was part of a 19th-century traveling exhibit that came to Tulane (then the University of Louisiana) via George R. Gliddon, a United States Vice Consul in Cairo, who used the mummies to illustrate ancient burial techniques in his lectures.

A preservation assessment, training workshop, and purchase of storage supplies for the Ancient Egyptian Collection at Tulane University will allow researchers, students, and the public to access this collection more readily. This collection offers a unique glimpse into both ancient and nineteenth-century attitudes toward death and the dead. These artifacts and mummies from ancient Egypt came to the university in the 1850s after being part of a traveling lecture tour and a study that promoted the idea of polygenesis as support for slavery in the United States. While this collection is modest in size, no other collection in the world combines nineteenth-century American history, history of race in the United States, early history of Anthropology and Egyptology, and ancient Egyptian concepts of death and the afterlife in this way. In order to fully study and make accessible to the public this collection, its current conditions need to be assessed and subsequent recommendations carried out.

Project fields:
Anthropology; Near and Middle Eastern History; U.S. History

Preservation Assistance Grants

Preservation and Access

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$5,924 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 6/30/2017